Labor Sees Potential In Northern Territory

Prime Minister

The Northern Territory is a big place with even bigger potential and our Labor Government is proud to be investing in its people.

Our Cabinet met in Darwin last week to focus on delivering a better future for all Territorians: building more homes, investing in better schools and creating good jobs.

Taking Cabinet out of Canberra and around the nation reflects my determination to lead a Government for all Australians. It’s also a practical way of listening to locals and consulting with communities, to drive better decisions and better results.

We know the cost of living is the number one issue facing Australians right now, which is why helping people under pressure is our Government’s number one priority.

We’re boosting bulk-billing, making medicine cheaper, cutting the costs of child care and, from 1 July, delivering a tax cut for every single Territory taxpayer.

Whether it’s funding fee-free TAFE places to build up our national skills or opening Medicare Urgent Care Clinics to take pressure off our hospitals, we’re focused on tackling the challenges facing Australia here and now while also building for the long term and the opportunities of the decade ahead.

This starts with education. Education opens the doors of opportunity. It is the single most powerful weapon we have against disadvantage and the single best investment we can make in our nation’s future productivity and prosperity.

Put simply, every child in every school deserves every chance to be their best. That’s why we’ve struck an historic new agreement with the Northern Territory to fully and fairly fund every single one of the NT’s around 150 public schools.

This will deliver more funding to schools across the Territory and provide that extra help to NT students who need it most. Meaning more support for measures like catch-up tutoring.

Over the next four years, our Government will invest at least an additional $737 million and the Territory Government has committed to providing least an additional $350 million over the same period.

We’re working together with the states and territories on education and in housing, so more Australians have a secure roof over their head. That’s why we’re working with the NT Labor Government to build more homes, including in remote Australia.

Overcrowding in remote housing undermines community safety and it’s harmful for people’s health, children in particular. We’re going to partner with Territory communities to halve overcrowding and build 270 new homes each year and support ongoing maintenance and repairs.

At Binjari last week, I met Stuart, Stephanie and Stevie who had just moved into their new house. They were proud of their home and excited to start working on the garden. That’s the sense of security and possibility that housing provides, it’s the foundation for a better life.

Building more homes in communities also means creating more jobs and apprenticeships on country.

Our Government wants to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote and regional Australia have access to real jobs for real wages. That’s why we’re scrapping the failed schemes of the past and creating a new remote jobs and economic development program which will deliver more than 3,000 new jobs.

Speaking of jobs, last week we also committed $840 million to help deliver Australia’s first combined rare earths mine and refinery in the Northern Territory.

This project is part of a new generation of economic development in the heart of the Territory and across northern Australia. Economic development that will also deliver for people and communities, through more reliable services and better infrastructure.

The Northern Territory stands on the doorstep of the fastest growing region of the world in human history and it holds the key to so many of the resources, metals and minerals that are essential to these economies embracing clean energy and meeting their climate change commitments.

What’s more, there is scope for Australia to do so much more than export the raw material. Our people have the skills and smarts to add value here, to manufacture technology here, to make our future here in Australia.

That’s my Government’s vision for Northern Australia and for all Australians. That’s why we’re investing in education and training, housing and infrastructure. We see the NT as an engine room for future international trade and national prosperity, a strategic hub for our national security infrastructure and a driver of innovation in critical minerals and clean energy technology.

This truly is a decisive decade for Australia’s future and the Northern Territory will play a defining role in our nation’s success.

This opinion piece was first published in the Sunday Territorian on Sunday, 24 March 2024.

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